Occupants

In the house at the start of the adventure is Jimmy Cheese along with Henry the groundskeeper and soon-to-be murder victim, plus up to six servants and would-be murders.

Armstrong, Jonathan (Johnny the Footman)

Sleuth: Eastern Wisdom

Once Johnny had a good job that he was very good at. He worked as a domestic servant to a rich collector in London. When his employer needed it, he helped move collectible items around in a van.

Unfortunately his employer was at the end of a world-wide antiquity smuggling operation. When the ring was busted in America by Eastern Wisdom, the British police rounded up the UK branch of the operation. Johnny just happened to be driving the van when the police called and they found £10,000 worth of Japanese artifacts in the back.

Despite his true claims of innocence, the judge sentenced him to two years in prison. The harsh sentence was in part brought about because of the connection to Eastern Wisdom and the publicity it brought to the case. He served his time in Newgate prison where he met Snodworth (Newgate the Butler).

After serving his sentence, he could not find domestic work again because of his criminal record. He ended up a homeless alcoholic, begging on the streets until a chance meeting with Snodworth led to his part in the plot.

Physical Appearance
Automatic
A physically slight man with a nondescript face who is well built and in his mid-thirties.
Easy
His manner and demeanor are of an expert footman.
Moderate
A footman of Johnny's age and expertise would normally have reached the position of butler by now.
Hard
There is a slight tremor in Johnny's hands, common in heavy drinkers.
Johnny versus Eastern Wisdom

Johnny's misdirected anger at Eastern Wisdom is channelled into violence. He will watch the detective and will try to sneak up on him when he is alone, ideally when the detective is in the dark. He is mostly likely to grab a blunt object, such as a candlestick, and bludgeon his victim to death.

Cheese, James (Jimmy 'Hard' Cheese)

Born within earshot of Bow Bells, Jimmy is a proper Cockney gangster. His whole family was involved in crime in some way but Jimmy took it to a whole new level. By the age of twenty he was already one of the most respected, or more accurately most feared, gang leaders in the area. By the age of thirty he was the number one gangster in the whole of London with control of prostitution, gambling, opium dens, smuggling and extortion rackets all across the city.

His success came from his intelligence, ambition and total disregard for human life. A brutal cold-blooded killer when he had to be, Jimmy never lost a night's sleep over his victims or the countless lives he ruined through his criminal operations.

Twice during his rise to power he had been charged with murder. Twice the trials had collapsed when witnesses changed their stories, failed to appear or turned up dead.

Then something happened but exactly what, no one knows.

What is known for sure is that a young prostitute, aged just 14, was killed in one of Jimmy's "Gentlemen's Clubs." Jimmy was arrested, pleaded guilty and was convicted of the girl's manslaughter. Five years later, he was released from prison early due to good behaviour and immediately left Great Britain for a luxurious retirement in the USA.

Newspaper reports at the time claimed there was a lot more to the story than officially released. Several credible reports placed senior members of the British cabinet in the Gentlemen's Club at the time. Some even went as far as saying a member of the royal family was also there. Speculation was rife that it was one of these VIPs that actually killed the girl and that Jimmy took the rap, but why?

The fact that Jimmy was a well known patriot and fan of the royal family gave credence to the idea that a Royal was involved. He had money and power; nothing a politician could offer would make it worth him giving up his criminal empire. But to save a member of the royal family? Perhaps to save the monarchy from a scandal that could bring it down? Just maybe that would be enough to make Jimmy give up everything.

Whatever the truth behind the story, Jimmy certainly isn't saying.

He served his five years and then lived a wealthy life of leisure for fifteen years in the USA. He first bought a house in New York and then moved to California before finally settling in Georgia where he has spent the last ten years.

When the pictures of a frail Jimmy Cheese stepping off a liner in Southampton first appeared there was a lot of renewed speculation, especially when he said he had returned to the UK so he could die in his native land. The press eagerly reported the story nine months ago but since then, Jimmy has kept a low profile.

Physical Appearance
Automatic
Jimmy is frail and gaunt. He needs two sticks to walk with and is very pale.
Easy
1920s medicine is not very good at diagnosing problems but any one of a dozen diseases such as cancer could cause his physical condition.
Moderate
Whilst Jimmy's skin is pale, suggesting poor circulation, he has enhanced the effect with a light touch of make up.
Hard
Occasionally, when engrossed in conversation, he forgets himself and seems to move more freely and with more strength.
Jimmy versus The Sleuths

Jimmy is really dying. Whilst he had been forming his plan against the sleuths for some time, his diagnosis a year ago forced him to turn ideas into reality.

He plans to take no direct part in the attacks on the sleuths; instead he will act as lure and decoy. Naturally they will suspect him and he deliberately exaggerates his condition to distract the detectives. What he will do is provide alibis for staff members and lure detectives into suitable killing positions.

Jimmy is an expert criminal and is used to lying and being questioned. Spotting his lies is much harder than with the servants.

Doyle, Jenny (Mrs Baxter the Cook)

Sleuth: The Old One

Miss Doyle never married. Events from her teenage years made her very wary of marriage.

She grew up in a picturesque small English village (Upper Withyham) where her parents, Tom and Frances Doyle, had a modest house. At eleven she was sent off to boarding school and was not present for the events of a few years later.

Her mother started an affair with the local vicar (who was also married). They kept it secret for several months until the village busybody and gossip spotted them together. Facing ruin, the vicar and Frances murdered the busybody, making it look like the short-sighted and elderly woman had left a gas light unlit and then fallen asleep. (In the 1920s Britain used toxic coal gas for lighting and cooking).

The murder was only uncovered by the brilliant detective work of The Old One who was visiting a friend in the village for a few days.

The case was a press sensation. The vicar received the death penalty and Frances Doyle was sentenced to life imprisonment. Tom Doyle divorced his wife but could not escape the shame and died a few years later, a bitter man, cursing the day he ever married. Jenny left school and looked after her father in those final years.

After Tom's death Jenny found what employment she could, eventually ending up as a cook in a fine stately home. But she never could forgive The Old One for interfering. The busybody had been hated in the village and there was no one who mourned her death. Without the Old One interfering, her father would be alive today.

Physical Appearance
Automatic
In her late forties, plump with a ruddy face, Jenny looks every part the traditional image of a cook.
Easy
Her hands are those of a woman who has worked hard all her life.
Moderate
Mrs Baxter's vocabulary is surprisingly rich and her pronunciation very clear, reminiscent of a girl at a finishing school.
Hard
Beneath the outward show of the happy, busy cook are occasional flashes of a person in deep emotional despair.
Jenny versus The Old One

Poison is Jenny's chosen weapon and cyanide her poison of choice. In the 1920s cyanide was easily available but as it has a distinctive almond smell she plans to place it in a mince pie where the aroma will not be out of place.

O'Flynn, Mary ('Red' Mary the Maid)

Sleuth: Private Eye

With her bright red hair, pale skin, good looks and lilting Irish accent, Mary catches the attention of most red-blooded men. She had a sister Anne, older by several years, who was never so strikingly beautiful but had a wilful sense of adventure that took her out of the bogs of Country Kerry and on to New York.

In New York Anne worked as a waitress in the bars and clubs but had to soften her accent so she could be understood by the patrons. She became involved with a mobster in the White Hand Gang. 'Mad' Mickey O'Brien (a 3rd generation Irish American) was charming but the innocent country girl realised too late that Mickey was also a violent psychopath.

Then one day, the Private Eye walked in to the club where she was working and started to chat. To Anne, the detective was a knight on a white horse, someone who could get her away from Mickey and the mob. Unfortunately, to the Private Eye, Anne was just a source of information. When Mickey found out, she was beaten to death with a baseball bat. As a warning to others, a hat pin was stuck through her lips, pinning them together.

Mary had worshipped her older sister and was devastated by the news of Anne's death. She travelled to New York to visit Anne's grave and to find out what happened. During these enquiries she learned of the Private Eye and shortly afterwards encountered agents working on behalf of Jimmy Cheese.

Physical Appearance
Automatic
In her later twenties, pretty and red-haired.
Easy
Even before people hear her soft, lilting accent, most people will guess she is Irish.
Moderate
Her accent reveals that she is from County Kerry, a western and impoverished part of Ireland. The Private Eye will remember once knowing a girl from County Kerry. She was killed by the gangsters she worked for and who the Private Eye was investigating.
Hard
Mary's hands have the distinctive discolouration from burning gunpowder of someone who has fired a weapon repeatedly.
Mary versus the Private Eye

Mary has a small pearl-handled revolver plus twenty bullets. Though not an expert with it, she has been practising for a few weeks and can use it effectively. She carries it strapped to her leg, under her long petticoats. Only a very personal search will find it.

Her mostly likely shooting position is one of the doorways from the first or second floor landings that lead to the back stairs. In the dark stairwell she can move quickly and quietly leaving any pursuers to guess whether to go up or down. Mary may also leave obstacles on the stairs (brooms, chamber pots) to hinder pursuit.

Other staff members will assist in her escape. If she runs into the kitchen, any staff there will swear she was present all the time. If she runs up to the staff quarters, a male member of staff can be present so the two can pretend to be lovers on a secret rendezvous.

Hunt, Timothy (Tim the Hall Boy)

Sleuth: Boy Reporter

At just fourteen, Tim is young to be a murderer but his life has always been one of crime. He small for his age so he is often mistaken for a much younger child, which has helped him avoid suspicion.

Abandoned as a baby on the steps of a Gentlemen's club in Shanghai, Tim has no idea who his parents are. His largely Caucasian features with just a trace of Oriental suggest mixed parentage (in reality his Father was American, his Mother was half-Chinese and half-Scottish). The staff at the club took the child in, suspecting that one of its patrons was the father.

However, the club was largely a front for a secret network of opium smugglers taking the drugs around the world. Well-to-do westerners would earn large fees by taking the opium in their trunks, as such upstanding citizens were never searched by customs officials.

Tim worked in the kitchens from age four. By the time he was ten he had progressed to a runner, carrying messages and occasionally bundles of money or drugs around the city.

Two years ago, the drugs ring was busted by the Kid Reporter. Tim was out with a message when the club was raided and came back to see it swarming with police. Tim watched with horror as everyone in the club, everyone who had cared for him, was taken off in chains. Standing in front of the club was the Kid Reporter, posing for photographs.

At that point Tim swore revenge on the Kid Reporter. So when the Kid Reporter headed home to London, Tim followed.

Physical Appearance
Automatic
A young boy of around ten with a distinctive face.
Easy
The dark black hair and slightly elongated eyes suggest that somewhere in his background is Oriental blood. The 'international English' accent suggests he has spent some time abroad.
Moderate
Whenever being questioned by an authority figure (i.e. anyone else in the house) he stands feet together, hands behind his back with his head bowed. This posture is typical of Chinese servants.
Hard
When questioned, with his hands behind his back, Tim crosses his fingers but in the opposite way to how a westerner would. This is a sign to ward off the gods and commonly used by criminal gangs in China.
Timothy versus The Kid Reporter

Timothy only works below stairs and will barely be seen by the guests until Henry's murder.

His plan for the Kid Reporter is to wait in the dark Hall Passage with the door slightly ajar. Hidden behind the Christmas Tree the door is hard to notice. Sticking the blowpipe through the crack in the door, he will wait and take a shot when the Kid Reporter is in, or passing through, the hall.

King, Sally (Sally the Maid)

Sleuth: The European

Sally King, or Mrs Sally Winkleton as she was then, was the perfect British wife abroad. Her husband was a minor official working in the Cairo embassy but was on the fast track for promotion. One day she hoped to have a family and be an ambassador's wife.

But all her dreams were ruined when her husband Gregory Winkleton was killed. In the middle of the night he was pushed off a boat cruising down the Nile just because he had overheard a conversation. His body was never found.

Everyone knew the murderer was a British aristocrat, but no one could prove it. Not even the great European detective who was just 10 feet away when the murder happened.

Left penniless by her husband's death, she returned to England to find whatever work she could. Her grief and anger were an open sore. Why was there no trial? Why had the European failed? Had he been bribed or threatened? Someone must pay for her husband's death. If not the murderer, then that useless European would do.

Physical Appearance
Automatic
Sally appears to be in her late twenties or early thirties and her looks tend towards the plain rather than the pretty.
Easy
She wears a wedding ring which is unusual for a servant. Most women working as domestic staff are unmarried and normally leave their jobs when they get married. If questioned on this, she comments that her husband died during the war.
Moderate
Her accent is more middle class than working class and suggest she comes from the Midlands.
Hard
Her accent marks her out as being from the small town of Leamington Spa. An unremarkable town except it houses the Foreign Office's training school where civil servants go to learn how to run embassies. To local girls, the young, exclusively male, trainee officials offer one of the few routes to travel and seeing the world.
Sally versus The European

Sally had hoped to use an asp to deliver a fatal bite on the European, a fitting nod to the Egyptian death of her husband. However it proved too difficult and Jimmy Cheese brought a highly venomous Cottonmouth snake back from the US.

There are several ways Sally can use the snake. The snake is keen on water so should the European take a bath, she will gently release it into the room. Or she may place in the pocket of the European's overcoat if he is planning to go outside. If things are coming to a climax, she may simply release it into a room where the European and several other detectives are congregating.

Smith, Henry (Groundsman / Driver / Murder Victim)

Henry has been working at Cromford Manor all his life, mostly as gardener or groundsman but occasionally doubling up as footman or driver as needed.

The last owner (Sir Percival Cummley) died a year ago but rarely visited the house in the last couple of years of his life. The rest of the staff were let go and only Henry stayed on to maintain the place.

When he learnt that the house was being bought by Jimmy Cheese he was worried, but over the last six months he has grown to like his employer. Jimmy is more generous and less demanding than previous owners. Henry also gets on well with the new staff and has his eye on Mrs Baxter (aka Jenny Doyle), having twigged that Mrs Baxter is not married, or at least isn't in contact with her husband.

Henry is the true victim of this adventure. He is a genuinely friendly, caring person who likes his new employer and all the new staff who arrived with him. However, the staff cannot pull off their murder of the sleuths and leave him alive. Henry's murder has been carefully planned to distract the detectives from the true danger and to encourage them to wander around the house where they can be attacked one by one.

Automatic
A fit, physical man in his early forties.
Easy
His hands and the colour of his skin shows he is someone who spends a lot of time outdoors doing physical work.
Moderate
Whilst he is wearing moderately smart and clean uniform it looks a bit old and poorly fitted. Clearly being the driver is not Henry's main role.

Snodworth, James (Newgate the Butler)

Sleuth: The Aristocrat

Newgate is an alias adopted by Snodworth after the Newgate prison where he served time. He was serving hard labour ten years ago when his younger brother Malcolm was arrested, tried and executed for the murder of Lord Margoyle.

James had worked hard to help himself and his brother out of the slums they were born in. Both worked as servants but at times James turned to crime to earn extra money. That money helped get Malcolm the clothes and training he needed to progress but eventually landed James in prison.

Malcolm got a good job working for the Margoyles. However he was seduced by Lady Margoyle and manipulated into murdering her husband, Lord Margoyle. Malcolm was caught by The Aristocrat who discovered how Malcolm had been slowly poisoning the Lord via his favourite Cuban cigars (see The Study). Malcolm received a death sentence. Lady Margoyle was never charged and inherited her husband's immense wealth. She later married a playboy 20 years younger than herself.

Physical Appearance
Automatic
Tall, well built man in his late forties.
Easy
Although at first Newgate appears as a typical well-mannered butler, anyone used to being around butlers will notice that Newgate makes occasional, small mistakes like someone new to the job.
Moderate
His accent is the perfect neutral for a butler but an occasional edge of a Cockney accent slips in.
Hard
His hands show signs of many years of hard, physical work in his past and occasionally his cuff rides up to reveal the edge of a crude tattoo. An expert in crime might recognise the crude style as a prison tattoo.
Snodworth versus The Aristocrat

Snodworth's approach is accidental death. He plans to booby-trap or tamper with the house to make murder look like an accident. He has prepared beforehand so his traps are safe for all until he activates them when the Aristocrat is around.

Plans include:

  • Weakening the cellar stairs so that they collapse, sending the detective down on to a conveniently placed pile of man-traps.
  • Removing the carpet rod on the stair carpet so anyone coming down in a hurry slips and falls.
  • Tampering with a gas light so that it slowly leaks. As coal gas is heavier than air, anyone in an enclosed room will be poisoned by the gas or caught in an explosion when the gas reaches a naked flame.
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open/oneshots/ultralite/mincepiesmurder/occupants.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/06 13:58 by darth_tigger
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